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Malaysian court to decide in 11 Aug on Najib’s bid to disqualify ex-AG Thomas’ lawyers

Malaysia Court of Appeal has fixed 11 August to decide on ex-Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak’s second application to disqualify two lawyers from representing Tommy Thomas in the former prime minister’s suit against the former attorney-general and the government for alleged misfeasance in public office.

Justice Hanipah Farikullah, who chaired a three-member panel, held that the panel needed time to look into the submissions.

The other judges who sat with her were Justices Azimah Omar and Azhahari Kamal Ramli.

Najib’s counsels are led by Datuk Firoz Hussein Ahmad Jamaluddin while Alan Adrian Gomez leads Thomas’ counsels.

The ex-PM contends that these lawyers cannot represent Thomas in the lawsuit, saying lawyers in a law firm should not represent their partners, consultants, and fellow lawyers in contentious matters, as they “cannot act objectively in the interest of justice”.

Najib had also tried to disqualify Gomez and Lai from appearing for Thomas in the High Court last year.

However, the application was dismissed by Justice Ahmad Bache on Nov 25, 2022, who said a litigant was entitled to engage a lawyer of his choice.

The judge subsequently heard Thomas’ bid to quash Najib’s lawsuit and granted Thomas’ striking out bid.

In his suit, Najib claimed that the 1MDB-related charges against him during Thomas’ tenure were “part of a long-planned, premeditated exercise”. He is seeking RM1.94 million in damages.

Thomas was appointed the attorney-general on 4 June 2018 after Pakatan Harapan won the general election and formed the government, with Dr Mahathir Mohamad again assuming the post of prime minister.

He resigned in February 2020.

Earlier today, lawyer Firoz Hussein Ahmad Jamaluddin told the appeals court that Gomez, Lai and Thomas have “pecuniary interest” in the firm.

However, Gomez argued that Najib filed the lawsuit over criminal charges filed against him during Thomas’ tenure in office.

He said partners in the law firm played no role in Najib’s criminal cases.

Najib, who is currently serving 12 years’ jail after the Federal Court upheld his conviction and sentence of being found guilty of embezzling RM42 million in funds belonging to SRC International, is seeking RM1.9 million in damages and a declaration that Thomas had committed malfeasance in the public office.

The Federal Court also upheld his sentence of RM210 million fine.

In his statement of claim, Najib said he was wrongfully accused in court over the four 1MDB-related cases.

He claimed the charges against him were part of a move planned in advance by Thomas, which was in line with the Pakatan Harapan government’s agenda at the time.

Najib claimed that in 2015, Thomas met Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to discuss Najib’s alleged crimes and mismanagement involving 1MDB funds. Thomas also advised Dr Mahathir to take civil and criminal action against him over his involvement in 1MDB.

Today, Najib appeared before the Court of Appeal accompanied by his wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, and son Datuk Mohd Naziruddin.

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